If someone is a successful architect, people assume that he or she actually is an architect. Yet a man in upstate New York who drew up renderings of over 100 buildings and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments for designing commercial and residential buildings has been charged with pretending to be an architect for more than half a decade.
According to New York’s state Attorney General, the alleged fake architect’s crimes go beyond just telling people that he was an architect when he wanted to impress them. He’s accused posed as an architect from 2010 to 2016, designing buildings and submitting site plans for projects in and around Albany, NY. These included apartment buildings with hundreds of units, a development of townhouses, and a a retail store.
He allegedly used a real architect’s license number, which the AG’s office says that he “found on the internet,” adding it to his name on stamps that were submitted to cities and towns around the area. He’s also accused of using the number of a state-registered Professional Engineer with whom he had worked in the past with a forged signature.
After learning that there had been complaints filed with the state Department of Education, which regulates professional licenses, he allegedly quietly changed his promotional materials to say “design” instead of “architecture.” The Education Department investigated and then handed the case over for criminal prosecution. The man was charged and pleaded guilty to grand larceny and fraud. After pleading guilty, he will serve 2 1/3 to 7 years in state prison.
Fake architecture and the fictitious company Vandelay Industries are both schemes perpetrated by the fictional George Costanza of Seinfeld. While the schemes weren’t related to each other on the show, it does make a better name for an investigation than “Operation Costanza.”
“Deceptively posing as a licensed and registered architect has real consequences – including prison time,” AG Schneiderman said in a statement. “Those who wish to game the system and take advantage of New Yorkers should take note: no license, no work for you.”
Perhaps he didn’t need to take the Seinfeld thing that far.